Citrus County Schools announce closings – are shelter locations and evacuations next?

Hurricane Irma
Photo Credit: Facebook/CSCO

Inverness, FL–According to a message released by Citrus County School Superintendent, Sandra “Sam” Himmel, on the Citrus County Schools website and Facebook page, schools will be closed on Friday, September 8th and Monday, September 11.

Below is Himmel’s message in its entirety from the website:

“This is Sam Himmel, your Superintendent of Schools. I am calling to inform you that due to Hurricane Irma there will be no school on Friday, September 8th or Monday, September 11th. Although Hurricane Irma is not currently having an impact on our local weather, after a great deal of conversation with state and local officials, the decision to close schools has been made. One of the many roles our schools provide in our community is to serve as shelters for those who have to evacuate their homes in situations such as this.

I strongly encourage everyone to monitor this storm as it progresses and to follow directions as they are provided from our local Emergency Operation officials.”

Because this message states “I am calling to inform you,” another automated call may be used to further communicate with parents later today.

Some Citrus County parents contacted the Suncoast Standard asking why their children were notifying them about the updated school closing information prior to them receiving the information. Apparently posting the message online before calling parents gave students the information first.

An unnamed source reached out to the Suncoast Standard yesterday to inform the paper that schools may be open only a half-day on Friday, which is a school closing decision recently adopted by nearby Lake and Sumter Counties.

School facilities double as shelter locations during tropical storms, making decisions on school closings part of the discussions during Joint Policy meetings prior to their official announcement.

According to Citrus County Administrator, Randy Oliver, Citrus County signed an order on Wednesday afternoon declaring a state of local emergency for Citrus County.

The decision to close schools for the entire day on Friday will ultimately net both supporters and detractors and it is not certain if the closing was moved up due to a slight westward movement of some hurricane models.

Out of the four counties (Citrus, Hernando, Marion, and Sumter) that the Suncoast Standard covers, Citrus County was the last to officially announce their decision on school closings.

It is anticipated that Citrus County will announce a list of shelter locations, hours of operations, and other related information soon. Earlier today, Pinellas County enacted a mandatory evacuation for a coastal portion of the county in a area prone to flooding.

As reported yesterday, Seven Rivers Christian School in Lecanto, FL will be closed Friday, September 8th and Monday, September 11th, following the lead of Citrus County Schools. Originally, SRCS considered being closed on Tuesday, September 12th, as well. They have now adopted a “wait-and-see” approach to Tuesday, dependent upon local storm impact.

Submitted by: Lou Newman, Publisher, on September 7, 2017 at 3:42 PM

Updated on September 7, 2017 at 4:17 PM

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